The 15 Largest Hand Sizes in NBA History

Updated on August 5, 2019
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I love writing about sports, particularly about NBA players.

A cement impression of Michael Jordan's hands allows you to test your hand size against those of this basketball legend.
A cement impression of Michael Jordan's hands allows you to test your hand size against those of this basketball legend.

Having big hands can be a nice advantage in basketball. It gives you the ability to easily palm the ball which, though not critical, can be very helpful. This can affect passing, shooting, and ball handling. Basketball, ultimately, is about ball control. You can imagine how much easier it would be to play if the ball felt like a softball in your hands. You would have so much control.

Some NBA greats like Michael Jordan and Julius Erving benefited from having huge hands. Obviously, it wasn’t the only reason these players were great but it was a huge advantage and probably why they were able to finish so well at the rim.

Kobe Bryant recognized this advantage. When asked what he wished he could change about his game, his answer was his hands. He revealed he wished he had massive hands like Michael Jordan. Also, when Phil Jackson was asked who would win in a game of one-on-one between Jordan and Bryant, the Zen Master went with MJ. His main reason for picking MJ was simply because of the hand size advantage he enjoys over Kobe.

This article will take a look at some NBA players both past and present with the most impressive hand sizes. Both the hand length and span of the players will be considered. Reasonable estimates will also be made on the sizes of players that have not been officially measured. It's usually obvious who has the biggest hands though. They're the ones who can wave the ball around like a grapefruit and don't need the off hand to secure the ball.

15 NBA Players With the Biggest Hands (Length/Span)

  1. Boban Marjanovic: Estimated to be 10.75/12 inches
  2. Shaquille O'Neal: Estimated to be 10.25/12 inches
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 9.85/12 inches
  4. Gregory Smith: 9.8/12 inches
  5. Connie Hawkins: 10.5/11 inches
  6. Noah Vonleh: 9.75/11.75 inches
  7. Julius Erving: Estimated to be 9.5/11.75 inches
  8. Michael Jordan: 9.75/11.375 inches
  9. Kawhi Leonard: 9.75/11.25 inches
  10. Wilt Chamberlain: 9.5/11.5 inches
  11. Royce White: 9.5/11.5 inches
  12. Wayne Embry: Estimated to be 9.25/11.75 inches
  13. Elgin Baylor: Estimated to be 9.75/11 inches.
  14. Jahlil Okafor: Estimated to be 9.5/11.25 inches
  15. Rajon Rondo: 9.5/10 inches

Hand length is measured from the base of the palm to the tip of the middle finger.
Hand length is measured from the base of the palm to the tip of the middle finger.
Hand span is measured from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky finger with your hand outstretched.
Hand span is measured from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky finger with your hand outstretched.

How Is Hand Size Measured in the NBA?

The NBA has measured the length and span of prospective rookie hands since the 2010 Combine. Hand size measurement consists of two parts; hand length and hand span.

Hand length is measured from the base of the palm to the tip of the middle finger. Very few NBA players have hand lengths of 10 inches or longer. Examples include Andrew Nicholson, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Dexter Pittman. The average hand length for a male is around 7.4 inches.

Hand span is measured from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky finger with your hand outstretched. Hand span is sometimes referred to as hand width or spread. It’s extremely rare for even an NBA player to have a hand span of 12 inches or wider. Gregory Smith and Giannis Antetokounmpo are a few who can boast of such measurements. The average male’s hand span is about 8.5 inches.

An individual’s span is almost always greater than his length. However, there are rare cases where the opposite is the case. Joseph Young of the Indiana Pacers strangely has a hand span of 7 inches, which is less than his hand length of 8.25 inches. NBA players like Anthony Davis, TJ McConnell, Markieff Morris, Harrison Barnes, and Alec Burks also have hand spans that are smaller than their hand lengths.

It’s also not uncommon for some players to have their spans and lengths be equal. NBA players like JaMychal Green, Al Farouq Aminu, Sean Kilpatrick, and Andre Drummond fall under this category.

The difference between these two measurements rarely exceeds two inches. Hassan Whiteside, Noah Vonleh, and Phil Pressey are few of the NBA players whose hand spans exceed their hand lengths by at least 2 inches.

Rajon Rondo is currently a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rajon Rondo is currently a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

1. Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo’s hand length measures 9.5 inches and his hand span measures 10 inches.

At just 6’1", his length is roughly around that of a 7’5” person. Rajon's hands are the same length as 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain's. The average at his height is around 8.3 inches. This means Rondo’s hand length is around 14% longer than the average. It's amazing that Nikola Vucevic's hands are 2.2% shorter than Rondo's despite being almost a foot taller.

Rondo's hand span is equivalent to the average of a 7’1" man. He has the same span as 6'11" DeMarcus Cousins. With the average hand span for someone his height being around nine inches, Rajon’s span is around 11% wider than the average. Interestingly, his span is a whopping 17.6% wider than Anthony Davis' despite being nine inches shorter.

Sport Science - Rajon Rondo

Connie Hawkins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Connie Hawkins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

2. Connie Hawkins

Connie Hawkins could palm the ball with ease and finish in any way he liked at the rim. This was due to his uncommonly large hands, which were 10.5 inches in length and 11 inches in span. Hawkins’s hand length and span are close to the average for a man standing close to 8’0". Amazingly, he stood at 6’8". His length was around 18% longer than the average for his height. His hand span was around 13% wider than average as well.

Lebron James stands at the same height as "The Hawk" but he can only boast of a hand length and span of nine inches and nine and one-quarter inches respectively. Connie had one of the longest, if not the longest, hand lengths in the history of the NBA. Remarkably, he had the same hand length as 7'7" Tacko Fall.

Kawhi Leonard (in red) is a small forward who is currently playing for the Toronto Raptors.
Kawhi Leonard (in red) is a small forward who is currently playing for the Toronto Raptors.

3. Kawhi Leonard

It was said that when Kawhi Leonard was born, his mum immediately noticed that his hands were disproportionate to the rest of his body. He had enormous hands even as a baby. His mum knew that nobody could switch babies on her.

As a freshman at Canyon Springs High, Leonard was a wide receiver on the football team. His school didn’t have receiver gloves that fit him in the equipment room and they had to send him to a local sporting goods store to get some. Unfortunately, the biggest size in the store didn’t fit "The Claw" and they finally had to special order some.

At 6’7", Leonard possesses a hand length of 9.75 inches and a hand span of 11.25 inches. The average length and span of a 6’7" person are around 8.8 inches and 9.5 inches respectively. Kawhi's length is 10.8% longer and his span is about 18.42% wider than the average for his height. Terrence Ross, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green stand at the same height but their hand sizes are nowhere near Leonard's. It's interesting to note that Kawhi's hand span is 7.1% wider than Tacko Fall's, who is a foot taller than him.

Sport Science: Kawhi Leonard

Shaq won three consecutive championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaq won three consecutive championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.

4. Shaquille O'Neal

Some believe Shaq's enormous hands were the reason he couldn't shoot a free throw. It's like an average-size guy trying to shoot a softball though big hands never prevented Kawhi, Dr. J, or MJ from nailing free throws. It's difficult to find accurate measurements on the hand size of Shaquille O'Neal.

Fortunately, Shaq compared his hands with Kawhi Leonard on live TV whose hand size we know with certainty. His hands were quite bigger than Kawhi's. Shaq's hand length seems to be at most half an inch longer than Kawhi's. Their hand spans also look like they don't differ by more than three-quarters of an inch. It's, therefore, safe to say Shaq's hand length is in the range of 10-10.25 inches and his hand span in the range of 11.75-12.00 inches.

Wilt Chamberlain stood at almost the same height as Shaq but possessed a hand length and span of 9.5 inches and 11.5 inches respectively. Kawhi's hand size is also pretty impressive if you consider the fact that he stands 6 inches shorter than Shaq.

Kawhi Leonard and Shaquille O'neal Compare Hands

"The Big Dipper" is the first NBA player to score 100 points in a game
"The Big Dipper" is the first NBA player to score 100 points in a game

5. Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt’s hand size certainly contributed to his status as one of the most dominant players in NBA history. His hands which were 9.5 inches in length and 11.5 inches in span were not particularly impressive for someone his size but they were still significantly bigger than the average.

Wilt’s hand span was around the average for a man standing close to 8’0" and was around 15% wider than the average for his height. His hand length was around the average of a 7’6” man and was around 3.3% longer than the average for his height. Wilt's hands were significantly bigger than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's, who is slightly taller than "The Big Dipper".

Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.

6. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is an anomaly down to his very genes and was designed to be a basketball god. He is one of the few NBA players to grow tall despite having relatively short parents. He’s 6’6" but wears a size 13 shoe which is pretty small for a man his height hence his lightning footwork and creativity using his feet. Interestingly, his left foot (size 13.5) is bigger than his right (size 13). Smaller feet (especially relative to height) allows for more nimble and graceful movement. The downside of having small feet is that it usually comes with small hands which take away the ability to control the ball. This isn’t the case with Michael. He beat the odds again and got to enjoy the best of both worlds. He was blessed with enormous hands despite having relatively small feet. Michael Jordan’s hand length and span are 9.75 inches and 11.375 inches respectively.

Jordan stands at 6’6" but his hand length is around the average for a man who is 7’9”. MJ's hands are significantly longer than Bol Bol's, who stands at 7'2". His hand length is around 12.1% longer than the average for his height, which is about 8.7 inches. It's mind-boggling that Wilt Chamberlain's hands are 2.6% shorter than Jordan's despite being seven inches taller.

Jordan's hand span is 21% wider than the average for his height, which is around 9.4 inches. His span is around the average for a man who stands close to 8’0". MJ's span is 3.4% wider than 7'0" Steven Adams. Surprisingly, Rudy Gobert's span is 13.8% narrower than Jordan's despite being seven inches taller.

The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, 11-time NBA All-Star, and a 10-time member of the All-NBA first team,  Elgin Baylor is regarded as one of the game's all-time greatest players.
The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, 11-time NBA All-Star, and a 10-time member of the All-NBA first team, Elgin Baylor is regarded as one of the game's all-time greatest players.

7. Elgin Baylor

Anyone can tell Elgin Baylor had huge hands from the way he handled the ball. Unfortunately, getting accurate measurements on his hand size has proven difficult. However, a comparison with the handprint of Michael Jordan shows that Baylor has roughly the same hand length.

MJ's thumb appears to stick out further for some added spread, giving him a slightly wider hand span than Baylor. It is therefore safe to say that Baylor's hand length is around 9.75 inches and his span is around 11 inches. This is really mind-blowing considering he stands at 6’5".

The hand print of Michael Jordan (in red) and Elgin Baylor (in blue).
The hand print of Michael Jordan (in red) and Elgin Baylor (in blue).
Noah Vonleh was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 2014. He is currently signed to the New York Knicks.
Noah Vonleh was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 2014. He is currently signed to the New York Knicks.

8. Noah Vonleh

This 6’9" power forward is gifted with the physical tools required to make it big in the NBA. His hand size is incredible for his height. The average hand length of a 6’9" individual is around nine inches while the average for the hand span is around 9.7 inches.

Vonleh's length is 9.75 inches while his span is 11.75 inches. He recorded both the longest hand length and widest hand span in the 2014 Draft Combine. Paul George’s hand length is 14.7% shorter than Vonleh's despite standing at the same height. George's hand span is 30.5% narrower as well.

Julius Erving was the only player voted Most Valuable Player in both the ABA and the NBA..
Julius Erving was the only player voted Most Valuable Player in both the ABA and the NBA..

9. Julius Erving

Julius Erving’s hands have always been big for his size. It was said that Dr. J could palm a basketball off the dribble when he was in junior high school. Erving’s humongous mitts allowed him great control of the ball which enabled him to throw down almost any kind of dunk imaginable. The way he could swing his arms around with so much speed while palming the ball was unbelievable.

His hand size has been the subject of many debates. Erving’s hand size has been estimated to be as low as nine inches in length and 11 inches in span to as high as 12 inches in length and 13 inches in span. Fortunately, Erving did us a favour by comparing his hands with Noah Vonleh, whose hand size we know with certainty.

Vonleh’s hand length appears to be about a quarter of an inch longer than Erving's. However, there is very little difference in their span. Though Noah’s thumb is longer than Dr. J’s, it doesn’t stick out like MJ’s does. Dr. J’s hand length is probably somewhere around 9.5 inches. His hand span is also probably around 11.75 inches. His hand size is not far behind one of the largest hands ever measured at the Draft Combine. It’s even more impressive considering he stands shorter than Vonleh.

Julius Erving compares his hands with Noah Vonleh.
Julius Erving compares his hands with Noah Vonleh. | Source
Wayne Embry played in the NBA All-Star game for five consecutive seasons (1961–1965) and won the NBA Championship with the Celtics in 1968.
Wayne Embry played in the NBA All-Star game for five consecutive seasons (1961–1965) and won the NBA Championship with the Celtics in 1968.

10. Wayne Embry

This 6’8" gentle giant has a large set of mitts for his height. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find consistent data about his hand size. Embry’s hand span is believed to be 12 inches. His hand length measurement is unknown. Like Dr. J, Embry volunteered to compare his hand with Noah Vonleh and so we can use this to predict what his true hand measurements are.

Vonleh’s hands are at least 0.5 inches longer than Embry’s in length. Their spans are about the same. The hand length of Embry should therefore be about 9.25 inches and his span around 11.75 inches. Lebron James is the same height as Wayne Embry and his hands are nowhere near his size.

Wayne Embry compares hands with Vonleh
Wayne Embry compares hands with Vonleh | Source
Jahlil Okafor is currently a center for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Jahlil Okafor is currently a center for the New Orleans Pelicans.

11. Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor is one of the few people in the world who can hold 13 tennis balls in one hand. The average person can hold a maximum of six. He also stunned everyone when he held three apples in one hand for a draft photoshoot.

Okafor’s hand span measures 11.25 inches and so it’s not surprising that he can do some remarkable things with his hands. Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on his hand length but it is safe to assume it should be at least 9.5 inches. At 6’11", he has exceptionally big hands for his size. Nerlens Noel stands at the same height as Jahlil but his hand span is 12.5% narrower. Remarkably, Okafor has a wider hand span than 7’0" Steven Adams.

Boban shakes hands with Okafor.
Boban shakes hands with Okafor.
In 2015, Boban Marjanović earned an All-EuroLeague First Team selection.
In 2015, Boban Marjanović earned an All-EuroLeague First Team selection.

12. Boban Marjanovic

Boban Marjanovic may hold the unofficial title for largest hands ever in the NBA and probably in the world. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had his hands officially measured. Some sites put his hand span at 14 inches which is highly unlikely.

A pic of Boban shaking hands with Okafor shows his hands are not significantly bigger than Okafor’s. It will be interesting to see him compare hands with some of the big boys like Vonleh and Giannis to gauge his true hand size.

Most of the people he has compared hands with have had average to below average sizes. In 2016, he compared hands with his former teammate Ray McCallum whose hand size has been officially measured. We can thus use this to estimate his size.

At 6’3", McCallum has pretty small hands for his height. His hand length is only eight inches and his span is 8.75 inches. From the pic below, it is pretty obvious that Boban’s hand length is at most three inches longer than McCallum’s. Their hand spans also don’t differ by more than 3.5 inches.

Boban’s hand length is therefore likely to be in the range of 10.75 to 11 inches. His hand span is likely in the range of 12-12.25 inches. This is not far off from the measurements of the tallest living person who is a foot taller than him.

Boban Marjanovic compares hands with Ray McCallum.
Boban Marjanovic compares hands with Ray McCallum. | Source
Gregory Smith last played for Osaka Evessa in the Japanese B.League. He plays both center and power forward.
Gregory Smith last played for Osaka Evessa in the Japanese B.League. He plays both center and power forward.

13. Gregory Smith

Greg Smith has one of the largest hands ever measured at the Draft Combine. His hand length measures 9.8 inches and his hand span is 12 inches. Smith has the same span as 8’3" Sultan Kösen. This is truly astonishing if you consider the fact that he stands at 6’10". His hand length is also close to the average for a 7’9" man.

Gregory’s hand span is around 21% wider than the average for his height. His hand length is around 8.9% longer than the average. Smith beats his 2011 draft mate Nikola Vučević in both hand span and length despite Nikola standing at almost 7’0".

Royce White currently plays for Auxilium Torino in the Italian LBA.
Royce White currently plays for Auxilium Torino in the Italian LBA.

14. Royce White

The average hand length of a 6’8" person is around 8.9 inches. The average hand span for that height is around 9.7 inches. Royce stands at 6'8" but his hand length is 6.74% longer than the average. His hand span is about 18.56% wider than the average as well. His span of 11.5 inches was the widest at the 2012 Draft Combine. Amazingly, he has the same hand size, both in span and length, as 7’1" Wilt Chamberlain.

Giannis is the first ever NBA 2K cover star not to come from the States.
Giannis is the first ever NBA 2K cover star not to come from the States.

15. Giannis Antetokounmpo

This insanely talented 6'11" forward who plays like a point guard is one of the few players in the NBA who can boast of a 12-inch hand span. This is the same span as the tallest living person in the world, Sultan Kosen, who stands at 8’3".

Giannis' outrageous hand length of 9.85 inches is also something worthy of mention which is longer than those of 7'1" Rudy Gobert. The Greek Freak has a whopping 26.3% wider hand span than Bol Bol, who is 7'2". Astonishingly, Tacko Fall's hands are 14.3 % narrower than Antetokounmpo's despite being eight inches taller.

Sport Science: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Honorable Mentions

 
 
 
 
 
Otis Thorpe
Scottie Pippen
Chris Webber
Tracy McGrady
John Stockton
James Worthy
Leon Powe
Elton Brand
Larry Nance
Vince Carter
Walter Herrmann
Edy Tavares
Joel Embiid
Larry Sanders
Steven Adams
Dexter Pittman
Darryl Dawkins
Clyde Drexler
Quincy Acy
Shannon Brown
*******
Craig Brackins
Andrew Nicholson
Tacko Fall
*******
Other players with huge hands but who were unable to make it on the list.

Hand Sizes of Other Famous NBA Players

While they may not be particularly impressive, here are some hand sizes on some of the top stars who have come through the NBA.

LeBron James

The king had his hands measured at nine inches in length and 9.25 inches in span. His hand length is decent considering his height of 6'8". However, his span is quite narrower than the 9.7 inches average for his height. Kyrie Irving who is five inches shorter has a wider hand span than Lebron. James' three NBA Championships show that his hands have not been detrimental to him.

Kobe Bryant

Bryant's hands have been measured to be roughly nine inches in length. At 6'6", this is somewhat average by NBA standards; they are certainly not impressive. Kobe can palm the ball but he can't "palm palm the ball" (in his own words) like Dr J or MJ. He has admitted he is envious of the mitts of Jordan and Dr. J. Coach Phil Jackson has claimed he would pick MJ over Kobe in a game simply because of their size difference in their hands.

Stephen Curry

Unfortunately, Stephen Curry's hands have not been officially measured. However, anyone who has watched Curry play can easily tell his hand size isn't all that impressive. They seem to be pretty average for his height which means his hand length should be around 8.5 inches and hand span around 9.0 inches. The fact that he is one of the best shooters to ever grace the NBA seems to support the hypothesis that not so big hands might be beneficial towards accurate shooting.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The highest-scoring player in the history of the NBA has hands that measure nine inches in length and 9.5 inches in span. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's hands are pretty small considering his height of 7'2". Bol Bol stands at the same height as Kareem and has roughly the same hand size as him as well.

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving's hands are pretty average for his height of 6'3". His hand length measures 8.3 inches and span, 9.3 inches. His NBA Championship with the Cavaliers in 2016 shows that his hands have served him well.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell's hands, when measured from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky finger with his hand outstretched, is 10.5 inches. His hands are wider than the average for his height.

Jimmy Butler

Both Jimmy Butler's hand length and span measure exactly nine inches. His hands are quite smaller than the average for his height of 6'8". Butler has the same span as Isaiah Thomas despite being almost a foot taller. This hasn’t held him back. Butler is a four-time NBA All-Star, a four-time NBA All-Defensive Team honoree, and a two-time All-NBA Team honoree.

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has some pretty big hands. His hand length of 8.75 inches and span of 9.75 inches are way above the average for his height of 6’3”. Lillard’s hand span is around 8% wider than Butler's despite being five inches shorter.

Klay Thompson

The average hand length and span for a 6’7” player in the NBA are 8.7 inches and 9.5 inches respectively. Klay Thompson's hand length measures 8.8 inches and span, 9.3 inches which are somewhat close to the average for his height.

Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo has a hand length of 8.75 inches and a hand span of 9.25 inches. At 6'4," his hand length is slightly longer than the average for his height, though his hand span is right about the average for his height.

Draymond Green

Draymond Green has a hand length of 9 inches and a span of 9.50 inches. At 6'7", his hand size is pretty close to the average for his height.


NBA Players with Small Hands

Some basketball players are not gifted with large hands. Some even have the drawback of being on the smaller side. This doesn't mean they can't be great. While small hands will lack the ability for more control on the ball, many report that smaller hands are more beneficial towards accurate shooting. Here are some NBA players who have small hands.

Kwame Brown

Brown was a center who stood at 6'11". He was drafted at number one by the Washington Wizards in 2001. He was seen as unimpressive and is now considered to be one of the worst number one draft picks.

He has no major accolades and is best known for his constant fumbling of the ball. He famously missed an open dunk. This has been attributed to his visibly small hands. They looked tiny for a man his size. While there are no official measurements, he was reportedly unable to palm a regulation-sized basketball.

Paul George

Paul George has significantly small hands for his height of 6'9". His hand length measures only 8.5 inches which is around 7% shorter than the average for his height. Victor Oladipo has a longer hand length than Paul George despite being five inches shorter.

George's span of nine inches is around 8% narrower than the average. It's amazing that Paul has the same hand span as 6'1" Kemba Walker. Fortunately, his hands have not been a hindrance. He is a six-time NBA All-Star and four-time All-NBA Team selection, as well as a four-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team.

Kevin Durant

While there is no official measurement, KD has openly admitted that he is unable to palm a basketball, which is somewhat controversial. This is rather surprising considering he is 6'9". This means his hands are quite small for a man his size. This obviously has not been detrimental to his career. He is one of the top players in the league and is a two-time NBA Champion.

Charles Barkley

Small hands didn’t deter this 6’6” beast from winning the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 1993. Charles Barkley allegedly couldn't palm a basketball and this is somewhat believable as 99% of his dunks were two-handed.

Moses Malone

Moses Malone possessed the hands of a 5’9” man despite standing at 6’10”. He could palm the ball but couldn't dunk and control the ball like so many small guards. Because of this, Tom Nissalke, the Rockets' coach, gave him a series of hand-stretching exercises, like those for a pianist. This didn’t stop him from being a three-time NBA most valuable player and one of basketball's most ferocious rebounders.

Anthony Bennett

Anthony Bennett is probably the biggest bust in the NBA Draft's modern history. Bennett has admitted his hands are too small to palm a basketball which is surprising to say the least considering he stands at the same height as LeBron James.

Derrick Rose

It's no secret that the youngest MVP ever is very poor at palming a basketball. Rose does tons of two-handed dunks or he goes up with two hands initially and then releases one for the one-handed jam. This can be attributed to his relatively small hands. Rose doesn’t need to palm the ball to dunk one-handed because if you can get up as high as he does, you can control the ball and throw it down.

Anthony Davis

Davis has rather small hands for a man who is 6'10". When he was at the Draft Combine, they were measured at nine inches in length and 8.5 inches in span. This was actually a concern about him in the draft despite being a top prospect.

It's interesting to note that Davis has the same span as Kay Felder despite being more than a foot taller. Fortunately, his hands have not been a hindrance. He is a five-time All-Star and one of the top stars in the league.

Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing had pretty small hands for a man that stood at almost 7’0”. Ewing was able to overcome whatever mild challenges imposed by having smaller hands. He is one of the greatest centers in NBA history and one of the greatest players to never win an NBA MVP.

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony revealed during an interview that one of his biggest secrets was that he couldn't palm a basketball. This is rather astonishing considering he is 6'8". This means he has relatively small hands for his height. Carmelo’s hands, however, have not hindered him from being one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.

Rasheed Wallace

Rasheed Wallace has very small hands for a 6’11” man and could barely palm a basketball. Sheed was one of the first big men to want to shoot 3’s on the regular. His small hands might be the reason he could shoot so well for someone his size.

Shawn Kemp

Shawn Kemp wasn’t blessed with big hands despite standing at 6'10" but this didn’t stop the Reign Man from being one of the best dunkers in NBA history. Unfortunately, Kemp is one of the best NBA players who won’t make the Hall of Fame.

Julius Randle

Randle was measured at the Draft Combine to have a hand length of 8.75 inches and a span of 8.25 inches. These numbers are quite small considering he is 6'9". He was a seventh pick for the Los Angeles Lakers. His career has so far been uneventful.

Ben Wallace

The unstoppable “Big Ben” was one of the most prolific rebounders the league has ever seen. The best player ever to go undrafted has notoriously small hands for his size and can barely palm a basketball. This didn’t stop Ben Wallace from being one of the best defensive players of all time.

David Thompson

David Thompson couldn’t palm a ball, but he was as prolific a dunker as the game has ever seen. He was creative, high slammer with a serious leaping ability, and a very special player indeed.

David could dunk the ball from a standing start — doing it despite being just 6-foot-3 and with extremely small hands. Thompson is one of the six players to score 70 or more points in an NBA game.

Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller is greatly remembered for stunning the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden by scoring eight points in nine seconds. At 6’7”, Reggie allegedly couldn't palm a basketball due to his relatively small hands.

There might be an element of truth to this as he mostly always dunked with 2 hands. His small hands might also have helped him become one of the best shooters of all time.

Josh Smith

Former dunk contest champion Josh Smith supposedly couldn’t palm a ball. That might explain why his favourite open-court dunk seems to be cupping the ball near his waist as opposed to the one-hand statue-of-liberty (like LeBron). He was one of the best defensive players in the league despite having small hands for a man his size.

Kevin Willis

Kevin Willis is one of the very few players to play 21 seasons in the NBA. At 7’0”, he had short arms, small feet and small hands for someone his height. He had trouble palming the ball and as a result, he didn't dunk often. Even when he did, it was mostly two-handed. Willis is one of fifteen players in NBA history with over 16,000 career points and 11,000 career rebounds.

Steve Francis

Steve Francis is one of the best rebounding point guards ever. Francis has small hands and cannot palm a basketball. This put him in an unfavourable position that one year in the dunk contest when the NBA introduced the “dunk wheel.”

The dunker had to spin the wheel on one of his attempts and replicate whatever dunk from the past the wheel landed on. Francis landed on a dunk he couldn’t actually do because he couldn’t palm a basketball, and he was never able to get his bearings.

Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler is one of the most elite defenders in the NBA. Tyson has unusually small hands for a man his size. This might explain why a guy his size almost never dunks the ball one-handed.

Keeping Height in Mind

Being tall naturally comes with huge hands. It’s not surprising that the largest hands on a living person belong to the tallest living man, Sultan Kösen. At 8’3", Sultan’s hand length and span measure a staggering 11.22 and 12 inches respectively. However, the largest hands ever measured belonged to Robert Wadlow, the tallest man ever, who stood at 8’11". His hand length measured a whopping 12.75 inches. Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on his hand span though one can safely assume that it should at least be 13.5 inches.

Kösen and Wadlow may have the largest hand sizes but are they really impressive for their height? Let’s take a look at the hand size of the great Wilt Chamberlain. His length was 9.5 inches and his span was 11.5 inches. His length was around 28.4% longer than the average and his span was about 35.3% wider than average. However, considering the fact that the average U.S. man stands at 5’10" and Wilt stood at 7’1", this doesn’t present the whole picture. The average hand length and span of a 7’1" man are roughly 9.2 and 10 inches respectively. If we compare Wilt’s hands to the average for his height, we see that his length is only 3.3% longer while his span is 15% wider.

Being tall does not guarantee large hands. At 6’2", Donald Trump has a hand length of 7.25 inches. The average for that height is roughly around 8.4 inches. Therefore, Trump’s hand length is really small if you take his height into consideration. Isaiah Austin has both a hand length and hand span of 8.75 inches. He stands at 7’1", just like Wilt Chamberlain, so his hands are also really small for his height.

There also cases of individuals with huge hands relative to their height. Jimi Hendrix was rumoured to have a hand length of 10.75 inches despite standing at just 5'10". It was believed that his unusually large hands contributed to his status as one of the greatest guitarists ever. The hand size of NBA star Isaiah Thomas is only 8.3 inches in length and 9 inches in span. He is an inch below the average U.S. male height and the fact that his hand length and span are around 12.2% and 5.9% bigger than average is pretty impressive.

‘True’ Palming vs Pseudo-Palming

Many fans are surprised when top NBA players like Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony confess that they can’t palm a basketball. Surely these big players should be able to as you have even seen your 5’8” friend do it on the court. There comes the difference between ‘true’ palming and pseudo-palming. What players like Durant are referring to is the ability to palm the ball reliably at any given moment during a game like Michael Jordan or Julius Erving did. Your 5’8” friend might be able to palm a ball informally but can he trust the security of such a manoeuvre in a game situation where everyone is trying to knock the ball out of his hands?

"Truly palming" a basketball is different from "gripping a basketball". To truly palm a basketball, you do have to have huge hands. Truly palming a basketball means your hand is so large that you can cup the ball in your hand by exerting pressure on it with your palm. Your fingers don't really come into play that much and aren't what is used to exert pressure on the ball. Gripping a basketball means your fingers are strong enough that you can hold the ball with your fingers only and it's not really palming in the truest sense.

A lot of us could likely palm a ball if it's thrown to us in a non-game situation and we had an opportunity to concentrate and execute our widest grip, unobstructed by outside influences. But the number of folks who could palm a ball at a moment's notice, with great ease, in the midst of a competitive basketball game during full speed with sweat and things like that would be greatly reduced by comparison.

Players who can truly palm a ball like the "Greek Freak" and Kawhi have a huge advantage as opposed to players who can only grip it with their fingers. Palming the ball is much more effective because the player is holding the ball with his palm. He can use his fingers for additional support and give himself a rock-solid grip. You don't see many players waving the ball around or doing all the fancy one-handed fakes Jordan used to because their palms aren't large enough. If you only can grip the ball with your fingers, it's much easier for defenders to knock it away, and it's also much easier for the ball to slip out of your grip.

Kawhi Leonard and Michael Jordan Show the Advantage of ‘True’ Palming in a Game

Which one of these players do you think utilised his big hands the most?

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Questions & Answers

© 2018 Charles Nuamah

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    • profile image

      Kooslossi 

      11 days ago

      Finnish giant Vaino Myllyrinne had a slightly bigger hands than Wadlow. Spam was 40cm. And size of his fist far biggest. Because of thichness of his hand. Vaino was 252`8cm tall at standing height. Time at his death. Sultan stands about 8-10cm less. They use his corrected height at Sultans case. But not Vaino`s. So he does not stand 8`3 more like 7`11 because of bad Posture. Vaino had good posture so his corrected height might have been 255cm?

    • charlesnuamah profile imageAUTHOR

      Charles Nuamah 

      3 weeks ago from Germany

      Good question Matt. I grouped every player from the 2010 Combine to date into their respective heights. This gave me a relatively large sample size for each height. Once all the players were grouped into their respective heights, the average hand length and span was calculated for each height. For heights 7'0 and above, extrapolation was used to estimate the average hand length and span.

    • profile image

      Matt 

      3 weeks ago

      What are you using to get average hand length and span for a given height?

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